Taiwan Defense & Security Report – Q2, 2008

On Tuesday, May 20, 2008, Ma Ying-jeou of the Kuomintang (KMT) was sworn in as president of Taiwan, heralding a sea change in cross-Strait relations. President Ma’s election victory probably means that the likelihood of a war between China and Taiwan – a war that might have involved the U.S. – has been greatly reduced. Numerous challenges remain, however, despite the very visible progress the new administration has been able to achieve in the short period of time since taking office.

As President Ma Ying-jeou and the cabinet he appointed began to take on the task of delivering on President Ma’s campaign promises, challenges have emerged across the full public policy spectrum, ranging from economic issues to cross-Strait ties, to national defense and security issues, and even to U.S.-Taiwan relations. President Ma’s vision and enthusiasm for reform is sometimes checked not only by the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), but increasingly also by members of his own KMT.

This quarterly report will provide a summary of the major political developments during the quarter, along with a survey of the evolving events and factors that have impacted (or could impact) Taiwan’s national security arena. The report will also examine the current and future defense/national security challenges that could be facing Taiwan under the new Ma Ying-jeou administration. Finally, the report will take a look at the substantive personnel changes within the Ministry of National Defense (MND), offer a status update on US-Taiwan defense relations during the second quarter, and provide an update on the progress of current Taiwan procurement programs.

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